A news article was recently written in TheSpec.com on the work we’re doing to provide VSAT service in the Canadian North!
Here’s what they had to say in TheSpec.com’s article Juch-Tech heads to the Far North! :
Walt Juchniewicz is something of a cowboy in the great telecommunications frontier.
His Hamilton company Juch-Tech is a pioneer in establishing telecommunications in remote parts of the world like Africa.
Now he’s traveled to the Far North town of Iqaluit in Nunavut to partner with local Inuit-owned company Coman Arctic Ltd. to bring high-speed Internet and 3G phone service to 8,000 residents there.
In October his company was one of several to demonstrate at the first Nunavut Information & Communications Technology ICT seminar on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.
His objective was to show that it is possible to deliver high-speed Internet in the Far North.
“My Rogers phone never worked before up there,” he said.
“Other companies, including Telesat, used millions of dollars, years of waiting and still there was nothing,” said Juchniewicz. “It took me three credit cards and a few weeks and we were up and running.”
Chris Callahan, Vice President of Operations and Corporate Development for Coman Arctic, said Juch-Tech’s presentation followed a host of other telecommunications companies who “talked about how this was so difficult, that it would take years to do this and that. Then Walt stood up and said anyone with a Rogers phone, turn it on. Everyone did it and you could hear a pin drop in the room.”
Callahan said communications between various government agencies and businesses let alone residents is extremely challenging in the Far North due to the monopoly by telecommunications giant Telesat and the remoteness and harshness of the geography.
One of the key problems with the Telesat monopoly is that the company’s satellite can occasionally be in a position in the atmosphere which interferes with the signal.
And, until now, it was the only one.
Callahan said in the fall of 2011, a blackout in telecommunications occurred for about a day when the satellite could not be reached. It closed down the international airport, business, homes.
“It was like going back to the Stone Ages,” he said.
He started trying to find companies interested in working with Coman to sell improved services.
He finally came across Juchniewicz.
The timing was right. Juchniewicz had shied away from trying to compete in North America because of the presence of so many global players already in the market. His modus operandi is to find smaller markets and be nimble in addressing the needs of those markets.
“The youth up there in the Far North should have the same access to social media and everything else on the Internet that my daughters do in Hamilton. Period,” he said.
The company started with “a pickup and a tool box” said Juchniewicz and as deregulation began to open up the industry in the 1990s, he was able to find a way to provide VSAT terminals on national chains such as Shoppers Drug Mart and Canadian Tire.
He now has 35 people that help operate a highly secure facility around the clock at his east Mountain location.
The outside of the building hides the high-tech world within with its bank of HD TV monitors and hum of computers that takes feeds from Rogers, Bell, African companies into one large hub — his.
Juch-Tech — or Hamilton Teleport as the telecommunications division is called — is a kind of airport for high-speed data transmission, audio and video. The information is pumped in from businesses through fibre-optic cable to the teleport, and the signals are bounced off a satellite to anywhere in the world.
It can also be reversed, with the dishes receiving information.
The signals are, in effect, airlifted into these countries by using dishes at each end and a satellite in between.
This is one way in which Africa was the perfect place for Hamilton Teleport.
Callahan said it’s also a model that can work in the Far North. Coman Arctic is now looking for carriers to partner with them to offer cellphone and high-speed Internet services, starting with four WiFi hotspots to convince customers that it is actually possible to have the service. His goal is to offer high-speed Internet by the spring.
In 1999, Juchniewicz found a high demand for telecommunications services in West Africa and soon was traveling there regularly to meet with clients and promoting his remote data transmission services.
“Our mission is to go where there is no telephone, no power. Places like Nunavut and Africa, they need these services.”
Soon he had gained a large market share of customers in Africa — a region that big global telecommunications companies are now chasing.
In November, Juchniewicz, sent a note to Canadian Industry Minister Christian Paradis calling on him to stop funding competitors to establish a more competitive system.
He’s still waiting for a reply.
But he’s not waiting to grow his business. He’d like to push services out to other parts of the Far North. Then he’ll stay focused in Canada, looking at markets in other remote parts of the country.
Africa will likely remain his bread and butter for a while as there is much potential there.
While his business is based on fibre optics, satellite dishes and intricate electronics, ultimately, “it’s people.”
“It’s still people talking to people.”